Q COSTA RICA – The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública (MSP) is investigation the origin of an alleged coup threatening the police force, arising from a disagreement of some unionized police officials with the change in work schedule.
“A coup is possible…we are the police…we can do everything…”, says the audio the MSP released on Tuesday during a press conference.
According to Juan Jose Andrade, deputy minister of security and head of the Fuerza Publica (police force), the higher-ups at the police body are attempting to verify the veracity of the audio, as well as another series of messages posted in social networks.
“This situation affects us as an institution. Apparently there is a group that is generating these kind of threats, which have gotten out of hand, because this group does not agree with the change in the work schedule of a police official,” said Andrade.
On Monday (February 20), the MSP ordered the implementation of a 4×2 work schedule, which consists of a police official working 12 hours a day for four days and have two days off. One month the official would work the day shift, the next month the night.
Previously, the schedule – called 2x2x2 – was to work a 12 hour shift for two days, then two nights and two days off. The schedule was scrapped on the recommendation of the health commission of the MSP, considering the effect on the health of the officials.
A year ago, the MSP implemented a pilot project called 6×6, that entailed an official working six continuous days (of 12 hours shifts) and six continuous days off. The schedule was tried out in the Heredia, Upala and Guatuso stations and is still in use, but only in special cases. Andrade said he sees the 6×6 schedule applicable to cases where a police official works, for example, in Guanacaste and lives in the southern zone.
Andrade said the 6×6 increased complaints from citizens of the lack of police presence.
“The schedules must respond to the criminal reality. They (the unions) are proposing that the 6×6 apply to all officials, which would mean we would have police officials home for six days, placing the force in a difficult situation, because we would be working at 25% capacity of human resources,” said the deputy minister.
Meanwhile, Minor Anchia, representative of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos (ANEP), said the union is against the new work schedule, but distances itself from the threatening audio.
The ANEP says that the new schedule would mean police officials would spend less time with their families when they have to work the night shift for an entire month.
“A night shift for an entire month is a lot of wear and tear on a police official, and whoever does not understand police dynamics, fatigue increases, affecting biological changes. Our female officials who are heads of families will see an increase in their household cost of finding babysitters for their children increase,” said Anchia.
“Our police (officials) are not robots, it is the State that must solve the lack of police, not the police,” emphasized Anchía.